An IFPI & BPI Board Member Writes…

In the context of a blog about the online music world, I thought you might be interested in an email exchange I’ve had this evening with a board member of both the IFPI and the BPI.

I’ve had an email conversation with Paul Birch of Revolver Records this evening. Rather than comment on it, I’ll just post it here for your information, in full and unedited, with his permission.

_______________________

Andrew

Looking at your site I do think allowing indiscriminate criticism of the RIAA is inappropriate for a Government funded institution.

Paul

_______________________

Hi Paul,

You might be right, but I’m not a government funded institution, and nor do I consider my criticism of the RIAA indiscriminate.

However, if you find something that’s factually incorrect, I’d be more than happy to amend it.

Thanks for checking out the site.

Cheers,

Andrew

_______________________

Let’s talk about it when we next meet-up, as I don’t intend to write a thesis on the subject.

However, I stand by my assertion.

Regards

Paul

_______________________

Fair enough. But if you do happen to stumble across something that you have a particular problem with, if you could point it out to me, that would be most helpful.

Look forward to catching up.

_______________________

Andrew, Well I am in regular contact with the RIAA and both they and the IFPI are subject to hate mail as a consequence of hubcap, our litigation against consumers for illegally downloading our copyrights.

This manifests itself into individual members of our RIAA management being singled-out for malicious statements and blogs on the internet. As an example you probably saw the case earlier in the week of a Chinese Laundry in the United States being sued for $54M for loosing a pair of trousers, belonging to a lawyer. If you take a look at the criticism on your blog of the RIAA by one of the contributors, they are engaging in a similar malicious prosecution in the US courts but go further and make a number of assertions through your blog that gives credibility to illegal downloading.

I am not concerned that people decide to take out law-suits against our organisations; we have the resources to deal with that. What does concern me however is the repeating of malicious falsehoods that occur in a number of internet blog, and are re-reported as having validity contribute widely to the assertion that right is on the side of wrong-doing.

You might argue that your professional blog is your opinion alone, however you are interwoven into the views and policy of the University of Central England and I think that puts you in an exposed positon Andrew.

It might not be nice to be sued by the RIAA and potentially put in a position of being made bankrupt; neither is issuing redundancy notices to hard working staff. People don’t have to download; they do however have to work. Consumers that enjoy music have a lot of options and enjoying it free on the radio is at least one of them, with last FM and You Tube there is near on demand service free at the point of use. But stealing isn’t clever, but presumably most people don’t really wish to steal, and only share because it is so easy and seems harmless/victimless. If people need to affirmatively hide their activities, then there is an understanding of wrongdoing. I feel that your blog underpins the misuse of our copyright and attacks our trade associations.

There are very serious allegations made in this anti-RIAA link on your blog, and I don’t think its appropriate that you link to them.

Paul
_______________________

2 questions, then please Paul:

1) Which link?
2) Would you be willing for me to post this email to the blog to present a counterbalance to the anti-RIAA position?
_______________________

http://www.downloadsquad.com/2007/06/06/
riaa-extortion-and-conspiracy-in-the-same-sentence

Above is the link, I am not sure how I navigated to it from your blog.

I am willing for you to publicise anything I say here, but I think that what is more desirable is to take down links from your site that promote this hatred of the recording Industry, because the assumption is that by linking to them that you support the extreme view heralded. That might be unfair to you by the way as you may or may not hold those views. I can only seek to reason with those views but my argument about biting the hand that feeds it is I feel valid. I respect everyone’s right to dissent but I am anxious that Individual managers within our trade association have the right not to be publicly hounded.

Best wishes

Paul
_______________________

I remember that article. I can see how it would be seen as undesirable PR for the RIAA, but I’m not at all convinced it either represents an extreme view or promotes the hounding of individual managers represented by the recording industry association.

In fact, from my time online reading articles about the music industry, I would say it’s about par for the course. Most independent commentators take the position that the suing of individuals by the RIAA has been a public relations disaster, and that rather than deter illegal activity, they have simply turned the record-buying public against them. If someone is taking a countersuit against the organisation, I’m afraid that’s comment-worthy. As it happens, I think I remember hearing that the case was thrown out, but I’d have to check the facts.

The way I see it is this: what I’m linking to is opinion about a news story. It’s genuine news and it’s legitimate opinion. You may not agree, but I don’t see anything there that warrants a take-down notice.

I would never endorse hate speech or the encouragement of the victimisation of any individual no matter what their job. That link doesn’t even come close to either of those things.

More importantly, as someone who comments about the industry, only linking to items that echo the official position of the major label organisations would pretty much make my site valueless to its readers.

Download Squad, the source of that article, is pretty much uniformly interesting, relevant and linkworthy. I don’t think this was an exception.

But I think it’s important that both sides are put, so I’ll post this email exchange up on the site. If there’s anything else you’d like to say on this, then pop it in a reply to this email, and I’ll leave it at that.

I think it’s great that you’re willing to have this discussion in public. Much appreciated.

_______________________

Andrew

It expresses opinion, it’s not factual. If you persist then I shall make a formal complaint to the University.

Your choice.

Paul

138 thoughts on “An IFPI & BPI Board Member Writes…

  1. oooops…excuse me, the last line should read:
    “i don’t condone selling someone else’s music, but neither can i condone folks sharing what they already paid for or changing it’s format to a digital one.” and being PERSECUTED for it…as someone presumably paid for the original liscense to use it’s content.

    most of the copies of albums i had given to me over the last 4 decades or so encouraged me to BUY the actual product, and sometimes even the entire discography, btw…and i doubt i am alone with that.
    j.

  2. Huw says:

    Paul came to a gig I was doing with my old band. There was a bit of on-stage drama between the other bands drummer and ours…our drummer started to smash up up their kit…

    Anyway it was a brilliant & tense affair.

    Paul stormed off yelling “This band are a disgrace to the music industry!”

    I’m certainly not advocating our drummers behaviour but I am very gratefull to Mr. Birch for revealing a new depth of Irony.

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  4. Jakomi says:

    Glad you posted this email exchange.

    lets get a few things straight for the record:

    1). The RIAA policy of suing music fans/consumers has been a massive failure. have we seen a decrease in overall P2P usage? Prob not.

    2). Businesses should not sue their customers – a better line would be to prosecute the accessories to the crime which by default are the ISPs. It is the ISPs infrastructure and turning a blind eye to copyright infringements which makes them accessories to millions of P2P crimes. The IFPI, BPI and RIAA should be suing the ISPs. They are the only ones with the technology to stop file sharing

    For more details on this check out:

    http://themusicvoid.wordpress.com/2008/06/09/are-isps-thieves-of-music-in-the-digital-realm

    Would be good to get peoples thoughts…

    Cheers,
    Jakomi

  5. ouch says:

    lets face it…for the majority of up and coming artists and producers the route into the “indusrty” as set down by such organisations as major labels, governing bodies etc have been CLOSED to them for YEARS. As such most of the artists, producers etc have been forced to use other methods to get themselves heard ( putting on illegal events, making white labels, hell we used to drive around europe putting on parties, going to shops and distributors and selling self produced vinyl out of the back of a van before the internet came along)

    so later on down the line…finally the big boys have had a word in their ear by someone who still has a connection to the real world and says it may affect sales if allowed to continue and THATS the key phrase isn’t it.

    there was no proof in the beginning it was going to do any more damage than home taping, it was all speculative. what about the factories in south america and asia running off all those bootlegs? for years before the internet arrived.oh no, they’re in cahoots with them because any exposure counts when trying to make your top artist ubiquitous, and theres always the chance of a lucrative bribe…..

    there’s still a stone in someone’s shoe though. how do we eek it out they ask?

    i know, lets do like every other organisation or government that has a problem with so called ‘terrorism or piracy’ does. lets make our public, our society , our people into the TARGET. LETS SHIT ON THE LITTLE GUY.

    you upload a track to myspace it automatically becomes the property of rupert murdoch apparently when you read the small print – look what happened to the arctic monkeys. does that stop anybody doing it? NO.
    are you really gonna trawl through every myspace page and sue people who put their favourite track of all time up on their profile? ooh i’d like to see you try.

    the main thing is , people like a track , they’ll do what they can to get it , BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. people wanna get their stuff heard THE SAME THING APPLIES. music is supposed to be heard. its the ultimate bastion of TRY BEFORE BUY. and its not by having corporate playlists ramming the same old shit down your throat on the radio day after day we’re all gonna back down and say”well, maybe what they want me to hear is all thats out there guys” what a sad world that would be.

    the amount of people creating their work has flourished over the past 20 years in ways that kiddies in the 50′s with a guitar could only dream of. the internet has provided a way for anybody to get at least somebody else to hear their work which is essentially the rasion d’etre of making music or writing songs in the first place.

    and now some paranoid guys in suits who probably haven’t looked in the a+r pile for years now wanna come shut us down?

    sorry, thats your karma for not listening to us when we asked for your help. sad truth is, we don’t need you anymore.

    and the more illegal it gets , the more interest it will generate, the more people will subscribe to different ways of getting their music.

    HELL even MY GRANDMOTHER USED EMULE, and thanks to some nutter in hicksville , nowhereland , she managed to finally get the bing crosby collection her local record shop (closed down now) refused to stock SO THERE!!!!!!!!

  6. ouch says:

    by the way am i the last person in the world to read this blog?

  7. Sarah Sings says:

    Hello Andrew,

    Your site has been a rather magnificent discovery for me this week!

    I am a UK Music Fan with a broad range of tastes and a hobbyist songwriter in my spare time.

    I have been reading your ebook and several of your articles/discussions with interest and have picked up some really useful tips so thank you for that…

    Now for the bad news…

    I seem to have noticed a prevalent theme in your posts…

    You seem to think that providing music for free is the way forward in the music industry and that when artists don’t want their music provided for free (without their permission) and when they or their representatives/industry bodies take legal recouse to stop this happening ie prosecuting file sharers….that this is a great sin…

    You seem to get extremely irriated at “corporate” bodies taking legal steps to protect their music and i just can’t understand why!

    It seems as though you are trying to turn the issue into an “us and them” Corporate vs Fanboy Filesharer war when your site is geared towards supporting the very people who want to share their music and earn a financial reward for it – Indepdendent Artists/Record Labels

    The BPI and Record Companies are just trying to protect their music.

    Who provides them with the music they are trying to protect? The Artists. People like me and the many people reading your site.

    Do you endorse filesharing of copyrighted music? It appears you do (Please correct me if I’m wrong).

    If you don’t endorse it (officially) You at least seem to agree with the principle of giving away music for free as this is a theme that runs through this forum and your ebook.. You keep talking about “promotion” and “getting your music listened to” at any cost…

    In this case the cost of the music….

    I just can’t understand why you insist on this theme of “free” music for all.

    I am starting to wonder if you have a hidden “sponsor” or agenda for this site – Is someone bankrolling you Andrew? Do you have an interest you need to declare?

    As an independent artist if you give away your music for free – How do you earn a living?

    Do you make money from sell out tours? Er no because your not Prince!

    Make money from the local gig scene? Er no you have to provide at last 50 people or you have to PAY the venue between £100-£200 because as one of my buddies got told “we could have put someone else in your place”..

    Ok so Independent Artists DON’T make from from their music and they DON’T make money from gigging so i’m going to ask a very, very simple question of you Andrew:

    How do you suggest an independent artist who is not signed to a major label makes their money?

    I have read your site from top to bottom and side to side yet you don’t seem to have an answer….

    Yours,

    Sarah…

  8. Overviper says:

    Dear Sarah;

    As one who has been in and around the “Industry” for more than 30 years, I can only tell you that you are very naive if you think for one minute that an entertainment conglomerate (of which the major record label to which you desire to be signed is only one very small division of) will represent your interests in ANY way at all once you sign that contract.

    If you think that people swapping files is ripping you off, you have no idea at all how much you will be ripped off by the people who you have given up control of your music to.

    The Internet has given you, the artist, the tools to fight back with for the first time in history and you are too stupid to see the opportunity, but can only see that you cannot get your hands on a “signing bonus” or are losing the opportunity to be plugged into their “star-making” machinery.

    You need to know that the odds, once you do plug into that machinery are very long against helping you and very long FOR chewing you up and spitting you out like a piece of meat.

    The musician/artist/songwriter of the future will create , market, and be in control of their own product. There will be new companies that arise to help those artists. Their paradigm will be to make deals that give them some rights for limited periods, but will leave the artist in control. Managers will play an ever bigger role…live music will return to prominence. Venues will spring up that do not charge the artist to work in them. Some smart person will construct a loose amalgamation of second-tier venues that can put artists on a touring circuit that takes the Live Nations and Ticketmasters out of the equation. The “360 degree” artist deal will be shown for the sham that it is. All of this will be possible because the CREATOR will be in control of their own creation…and you think we should go backwards?

    You are a very silly person…

    Overviper

  9. Luc says:

    I kindly request that everyone declare their interests from the start. It would make reading blogs and groups and network sites so much easier. For instance, this eMail firestorm would be so much more valuable had every single respondent declared the following at the beginning of their post:
    a) I am a singer/songwriter who does not perform; or
    b) I am a performer who does only covers; or
    c) I am an industry person.

    Therefore, before I go on, I will state quite clearly that I am a performing singer/songwriter who primarily wishes to provide others with material for their albums and projects. No stranger of the stage, I prefer hearing my material played by others than performing it myself.

    That being said, the overwhelming theme of these posts (as with many other such places that touch on the subject) is that (a) the big companies are bad; and, (b) we all have to give away our music for free to really show ‘em who’s boss.

    I’d like to know which percentage of those supporting the “give it all away for free” are cover artists who do not or cannot write their own material. For once, I’d like to see not one but a community of accomplished songwriters come forward and support this method. I doubt any ever will.

    The “angler fish” is a fish that has a light emitting from a dangly thingy that protrudes from its forehead (like the one in that scene from Finding Nemo). As I read through this and many others blogs, I cannot help but feel as though we are being drawn toward this “enlightened future” for music only to ever more quickly be chewed up and spit out (or worse).

    In Canada, and I assume other places, we can no longer participate in any competition or apply for any festival or such without being SonicBids members. While I understand the service SonicBids provides (a cute little template and standard submission model), it boggles the mind that (a) this is a monopoly; (b) I not only have to pay up front for a service which I can easily provide for myself via my web-site and (c) to add insult to injury, I must also pay again for each individual opportunity I wish to apply for. Outside the arts world, no other work community operates in this fashion. The music industry is above labour laws too now?

    Why do I mention this? Because it continually seems as though we’re being nickled and dimed by everything we want to do in this “free world” called the internet, yet every corner I turn (after paying the applicable set-up and finders fees) tells me I should give all my stuff away for free.

    I’ve no doubt Andrew’s intentions are honourable as are those of posters like Overviper but I cannot call Sarah’s entries “silly”. If I was a performing artist that didn’t write my own songs, I’d sure love to see those copyright laws reduced and/or convince the majority of new artists to give away their rights from the start.

    And, even more sinister, if I were a major recording company, I would sit back and quietly gobble up the CD Babies, Facebooks and SonicBids of the internet world. (see the Angler Fish now?)

    Yummy.

    I’ve no trouble giving certain rights away to certain people given certain circumstances. I’ve written a gazillion songs but I can’t help but feel for the guy who’s written just one who reads these posts and hears an entire community telling him to give away what amounts to his life’s work in a globalized environment such as this… it just seems so unfair and irresponsible.

    Could we all declare our personal interests from the start? Please?

    Luc

  10. Overviper says:

    Hi Luc;

    You make a couple of good points…so I’ll declare…

    I’ve been a professional musician for over 40 years. I am currently inactive due to the nature of the business. Some of the hats I have worn over the years are composer, arranger, orchestrator, recording engineer, studio owner, jazz pianist, studio musician, record producer…I could go on and tell you about the time my band opened for the juggling act (true story), but what’s the point…I’ve been around the block a few times.

    One of the biggest mistakes that I personally made was in not understanding early on the value of owning your own copyrights (publishing). Due to the nature of broadcast media (US…I don’t know Canada), if you own your own publishing, you can make about twice as much money. Broadcast media such as film, TV, radio, etc. must pay license fees to ASCAP, BMI, etc. who collect money for you. If you are a Publisher member, you can have that money collected as well, or assign someone to collect it for you (usually smarter, but more risky). I have received royalty money from all over the world because Broadcast media must make those payments. It is the revenue stream that is most valuable to the artist and composer…because it pays regularly…and that’s the reason that record labels, etc (the man), are so interested in taking ownership pieces of that revenue stream away from you.

    We could talk about how you may on some level believe that the demise of these companies is bad for the artist, but I am only too glad to see them go. They do not, have not, never will, and never did protect, defend, or care about any artist. They cared about the revenue stream. When you own your own product, you can control that stream.

    If you think back 100 years to small town America, it was much harder to lie if you were in business. You may have done it a couple of times, then you got a reputation for it, and customers went down the street to someone else. The major music companies have been lying to everyone for so long it’s astounding, and the reason the could get away with it was that they were the only game in town.

    Maybe you, Luc…maybe you will be that person who starts up an online song placement service, or an online honest publishing company, or an honest music management company…if not you, someone WILL do it…because it needs doing. So if you complain about how Sonic Bids takes a bite of your cash, start an alternative service. If you do it well, not only will you put them out of business, the TALENT will flock to you because they will rightly perceive that you are helping them and not ripping them off.

    The Internet is a golden opportunity for musicians to control their own destiny…except that most musicians are too lazy, too into becoming stars, too into their image to actually do the work. Before you just jump down my throat about that opinion, remember that we had all of the poseurs in my day too. When you decide to pursue music as a career, there is no guarantee that you will succeed…none. You can work your ass off for years, at the end of the day, if the public does not like you, like your songs, like your music…you will get exactly nowhere. Along with democratizing music, new technology has had the side-effect of allowing SO much product into the marketplace that the gatekeepers are confused. At large companies, those gatekeepers are lawyers and business people. They are no longer music people…so if you take a song to them, they have no clue whether it’s good or bad…their only concern is to keep their job, so what they put out is the least threatening…not the best.

    Small labels can take more chances, many times have more people who love music working there, and are more helpful in terms of providing the public what it really desires…which is good music. The problem is that the smaller labels mostly operate on a shoestring and don’t pay that much…so for now, people like yourself are caught in a kind of no-man’s-land…my opinion is that will likely evolve over the next few years, and you will see people step up into the breach because there IS money to made from that revenue stream, and there IS money to be made from managing a great band, and there IS money to made from putting music into TV and films…it may not be as much money as you want…in my view, that’s a good thing…because it will cause all the people who think music is about having the right “look” and not having any chops to fade away.

    Music will be better for that…

    So if you want to give your music away for free…do it. If you don’t want to…don’t do it. It’s your choice…I would only ask you to take a look at what Trent Reznor is doing…he sent a questionnaire to his fanbase, asking THEM what they liked or didn’t like in the way he was doing his business. He gave away some product, gave away some tickets, and for the fans that paid to download his music, there were still other giveaways…tickets, merchandise…that people who didn’t pay couldn’t get. Now…OK, it’s NIN, but he didn’t get to where he is by having contempt for his fanbase and asking someone else to do the work. He dug down and got his own hands dirty.

    Ancient Chinese proverb…

    Chaos creates opportunity. Dig it.

    Overviper

  11. apapephivy says:

    I have a question for you or anyone else who wants to address this: I know of several folks who have decided to stop contributing to their 401k’s and other retirement accounts and start putting that money towards paying down their mortgage. Right now I put $250/paycheck into my retirement fund, and yet my balance is less than it was six months ago. Is it smarter to just keep with the traditional wisdom of investing the same amount no matter how the market is going, or is a diversion into debt reduction a smart move? FYI I’m about 15 miles out from retirement.
    What do you think?

    http://www.moneyning.com
    Laura Kauffmann
    “Seven Oceans Investments Club”

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  15. superhomerun says:

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  16. alexisstunner says:

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  22. enlappica says:

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    So, thanks in Advance for your Questions and Answers to me to help me train my English….

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